English Major Musings is an evergreen Paperback Paris column curated by Contributing Writer Alicia LeBoeuf.
The summer before my junior year of college, I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Oxford, England for three weeks. This was considered a summer travel course, not a typical semester-long study abroad, but I was still able to fit countless memories, experiences, and lessons into the short time that I was in England. In this installment of English Major Musings, I am going to outline the benefits of studying abroad as an English major.
I want to start off by saying that I think studying abroad is a great opportunity for any college student, no matter what their major is. Studying abroad allows you to see new places and be exposed to different cultures. It allows you to truly exercise some freedom and independence in a new and exciting way. It allows you to view and think about the world from a different perspective. The benefits just seem endless. The list could go on, trust me!
The great thing about the study abroad trip I took was that it was specifically designed for English majors. While you didn’t necessarily have to be an English major to go on the trip, it featured a curriculum consisting of reading literature, creative writing, and some history. It was because of this that I became determined to go on this study abroad trip since it was geared towards all of the things I was interested in as an English major.
I never realized how powerful it was to read and learn about literature while in the city where the authors had once lived. We read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and then toured the college where he taught at, spotting a table where he was once photographed writing at. We had a tour guide point out a gorgeous door, featuring a carved lion’s head, and casually mention that C.S. Lewis passed this door on a daily basis and that particular lion inspired the character of Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia series. We would also later visit C.S. Lewis’s house. My entire study abroad group crammed into the corner table at The Eagle and Child pub where The Inklings, which included literary enthusiasts such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams, among others, would meet to discuss their latest literary breakthroughs. I never felt more connected to literature in my whole life.
My creative writing also flourished in an environment that was brimming with literary inspiration. We had several creative writing assignments that we had to work on while in England, and I found inspiration everywhere since Oxford stimulated my imagination like no place I’ve been to had before. Having the opportunity to write in a library housed in a 12th-century church did wonders when it came to overcoming any kind of writer’s block. As well, every Sunday night we would wander into the garden of the Oxford college we were staying at and read our poetry out loud and discuss it. I never was that keen on writing poetry before, but this activity allowed me to get outside my comfort zone.
After studying abroad in England, I felt as if my English education had finally come full-circle. While I am lucky enough to have a great English program at the college I’m attending, nothing could beat being able to go straight to the source of some of the most well-known pieces of literature out there. Learning about literary works and writing in a new country allowed me to view the subject of English in a whole new light. I definitely gained an even deeper appreciation for it. I also felt even more confident that becoming an English major was the best decision I ever made. So if you are an English major and you are aware of an amazing study abroad program that is tailored towards English majors – go for it! You will learn so much about both the subject and yourself.
Stay tuned for the next installment of English Major Musings at Paperback Paris!
Have you ever studied abroad?
Do you have a topic you’d like us to feature in our next EMM?
Let us know in the comments, below!